(we're driving through our rear-view mirror!)
FLEURIEU PENINSULA SOUTH AUSTRALIA
HIRAKIMATA from SUMMIT OF CYCLE HILL
ASPIRING ROCKISTS and STONERS...
MANY THANKS OKIWI SCHOOL! :)
MAGELLANIC NIGHTSCAPE AOTEA
CAPTAIN COOK HAWAI'I
BEAUTIFUL NEW MOON APPLES
UCY.TV's youtube channel has topped a million hits :)
Here is my first broadcast of the New Year.
Increasingly clear to me is that I have one foot in the human world, and hope that at least a few good seeds are being created to benefit from our legacy, but my BIG foot is in the reality of non-human beings...an infinitely vaster and indeed more real world...where stars and elephants, rocks and trees, gorillas and koalas, dolphins and turtles, planets and microbes matter just as much as we think we do...and hope that the 'day of purification' foretold by the Hopi is imminent...very imminent...not for our sake, as we are the reason it needs to happen, but for the sake of the survival of life and Mother Earth as an intact and life-supporting planetary being.
My thoughts along this line are concisely expressed in this blog post:
'THE ATLANTEAN DISCONTINUITY: IN THE ABSENCE OF THE SACRED AND THE HEALING OF KOYAANISQATSI'
DR SEUSS REMAINS AN ALL-TIME HERO
LISTEN TO 'THE RETURN OF THE LORAX', A TECHNO-RAP SONG I RECORDED IN 1996...HIS MESSAGE TO HUMANITY IS QUITE SIMILAR TO MY OWN :)
'Don't be a soldier in World War 3...park your car and plant a tree...
Use the tube to educate...leave the plants to vegetate...'
A YEAR IN A FEW PARAGRAPHS
OK, now for a chronological recapitulation of the highlights of 2018. Even real-time audio and video recording would only capture an infinitesimal record of an actual year of human experience. Indeed, neither recording technology nor memory itself can be the reality it seeks to represent, yet this limitation conveys the nature of our entire relationship with everything that is not of our immediate present.
I welcomed last new year's here in Takaka in the Golden Bay region of the south island of Aotearoa. I was visiting my great old mate Grant who is a pillar of the local community. I got a lot of art done, met some lovely wwoofers, and had some great jams with Kate Liddel, a brilliant violinist from the UK and the legendary James Wilkinson, whom I've known and recorded with since 2002.
Here are two jams we did...not bad for improvisation :)
In mid-January I went to the Big Island of Hawai'i and spent the next 4 months there, in the Captain Cook area of the Kona region, then in the Pahoa area of the Puna region. To me the main attraction on the Big Island is the handiworks of Tutu Pele, or the mutliple volcanos which comprise the island, in particular, Hawai'ian Volcanos National Park.
When I was there before in 2013-14 Pele had ceased her flow of lava into the ocean, a spectacle I had hoped to witness. When I arrived this time, I began to ask her...in the gentlest and nicest way...if she might put on a little show for me while I was there this time.
I had communicated with well-known astro-volcano photographer Sean King about accompanying him one of his photo expeditions to get close to the lava at HVNP. He said we could do it but then he lost his life due to an unexpected outflux of volcanic gases while on a trek at Haleamaumau. This was an omen of what was to come. I have given thanks that I was not on this trek, yet the possibility exists that if I had been, things may have turned out differently.
My time on Moku o Keawe was powerful, awesome, lovely and at times challenging...it was hard at first being around a bunch of Americans, goddess bless their hearts :), lucky I'm not one any more...the mere fact that Trump is not 'my president' tells the story...and there were moments or even longer periods when I felt as if I were visiting a psychiatric penal colony. This impression was created by being around high densities of over-privileged more or less wealthy yanks, mainly from California, of relatively homogenous disposition. Having said that, I also met and became friends with some of the loveliest people I know anywhere, who are keeping 'aloha' alive and well.
What I am about to share is one of the freakiest things that's ever happened in my life, an event of profound cosmic as well as real-world significance, up there with the time the bloke stole all my gear while I was hitch-hiking in Tasmania in 2001...then returned it all a week later. And a synchronicity up there with the time I was on the Hopi reservation in Big Mountain, Arizona in April 1986 learning about the ancient prophecy of koyaanisqatsi and how 'if we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster.' We were standing on land where some of the uranium for the first atomic bomb had been mined. We had been out of media contact for a week, and when we returned to Flagstaff the headline of the paper read 'CHERNOBYL MELTDOWN.'
'THE GHOULEST AND THE COOLEST: A Real Hitch-hiking Adventure'
On 25th April two friends and I visited the summit of Mauna Kea, the highest peak in Hawai'i and in the entire Pacific ocean region at over 4000 m. Her summit was and is perhaps the most powerful and sacred place in the Hawai'ian archipelago, formerly visited only on special occasions by priests and initiates. Without roads and vehicles, quite an arduous journey from sea-level.
In honour of the power and beauty of where we were, I honoured Mother Earth and Tutu Pele and the pantheon of beings in whose temple I now stood by burning some sage and shaking my gourd and offering prayers as the sun was about to set. I couldn't play my flute as it was too cold and windy but right as the sun was going down I played my drum...made from golden buffalo skin by my friend Elizabeth Theriault in Kona and recently reworked by her. I was playing my usual kinds of rhythms but was inspired to play with increased vigour as the sun neared the horizon. My playing got more and more intense and by the instant the sun went down it was thundering. Then WHAP! The last beat at the instant of sunset hit so hard that the head of the drum split. I couldn't believe it.
This was one of those moments where time freezes, as if I were in a momentary portal or axis connecting many dimensions all at once. I can't explain what I felt but I felt a profound warning or portent or omen if you will, of something big and dangerous, maybe there then, maybe coming soon, I don't know but it was unnerving. Part of me thought, 'God, I hope I didn't accidentally break anything other than the drum-head?'
OK. That was 25 April. Just a few days later, I think it was 30 April, early one morning I heard heaps of choppers going up and down the coast at Pahoa. I quickly ascertained from Mick Kalber, a volcano videographer I'd gotten in touch with, that the bottom had dropped out of the Pu'u O'o caldera, a volcano on the flanks of Kilauea. It was a cone of around 1,000 feet high that had been filled to the brim with lava. All of a sudden out of the blue, it's bottom dropped out and all the lava in there was rapidly disappearing to somewhere. Pretty freaky.
But THEN just a couple days after that, I think it was 2 May, all of a sudden the bottom drops out of the Haleamaumau caldera within Kilauea herself. This was a HUGE caldera that had been brimming over with lava. We had seen it by night going 100 feet into the air. All of a sudden now THIS other caldera's massive lava content was disappearing into the subterranean regions.
Two unprecedented collapses very close together in time with unknown consequences: no one knew where the lava might come out.
THEN around mid-day on 4 May, I was making juice when BAM! A 6.8 earthquake shook my juicer all over the place, but I kept going as we didn't lose power. WTF! The whole house shook for around 45 seconds. This was the beginning of major RED ALERT conditions. People's conversations and media broadcasts had the word 'emergency evacuation' like every other sentence. I was going 'holy EFF', what's going to happen? Experiencing a 6.8 earthquake on the flanks of the world's most active volcano is not exactly a recipe for rest and relaxation.
Later that afternoon lava started coming out of the ground, accompanied by frequent after-shocks. The fissures began to open in Leinani Estates, a housing development in Pahoa where I had lived for a few weeks in 2013-14.
The story of what transpired over the next 3 months is a book and movie in itself. Pele put on more than just a little show; even though this eruption ended up being the largest in Hawai'i in over 200 years, destroyed close to 1,000 homes, displaced over 3,000 people and gave birth to over 850 acres of new land by delivering 6 to 9 million cubic metres of lava per day for 99 days, this event was the merest of trickles compared to some of the larger flows that have formed the substrate of the island. And it's an invisible speck compared to the gargantuan flows of prehistoric antiquity, like the Deccan traps of India and the Columbia River plateau in Washington state, which covered hundreds of thousands of square miles at depths of multiple miles.
Perhaps the freakiest moment of 2018 for me, other than when my drum head split, was being awakened around 3am in early May by the smell of sulfur dioxide emissions. Where I was living in Pahoa was only about 12 miles from where the fissures were erupting. The dominant wind pattern of the Big Island is the trades which come out of the northeast and move to the southwest. Most of the massive amount of smoke and ash plumes were lofted towards Kona and out to sea, but in the middle of the night the winds shifted and some fumes wafted into our neighourhood.
I'll never forget that instant of waking up to a smell I had never smelled yet I knew exactly what it was. It sent a shock-wave through my whole system as if my inner genome knew what it meant: immediate and grave danger. I got up and went outside to see the stars being gradually obliterated by dark clouds of smoke. For a minute I almost panicked but I realized that the wind had just shifted and that lava was not 100 metres away as I had initially thought. Still, it took me a long time to get back to sleep. I don't think I slept very soundly for the rest of the nights I was on the Big Island.
VIEW FROM HAWAI'IAN VOLCANOS NATIONAL PARK
I had already been planning to return to Australia in mid-May for several weeks, and as soon as my visa came through I bought my ticket for Sydney. The photographer and adventurer in me wouldn't have minded staying, even though in the beginning no one could get close enough to see any lava except by chopper. But the part of me who wanted to stay alive and healthy was glad to head back down under. Massive socio-economic chaos was already beginning to unfold and we had no assurance that the lower Puna area where I was living might not have to be evacuated. That brought up a nightmare scenario in my mind so off I went. Even now, geologists do not know what triggered the sudden collapse of the calderas that precipitated this eruption.
I spent about 10 days in Wamberal, in the central coast near Gosford, about an hour north of Sydney. I got to be the fire-keeper at a Buddhist meditation centre, met some lovely people and visited Norah Head (Bungaree Noragh Point) before making my way south to Melbourne, visiting my spiritual brother Paul Bennett, the director of the William Ricketts sanctuary, which is to me the coolest thing ever done by the white man in Australia.
ME WITH EARTH-MOTHER
The faces on the 100+ sculptures there are those of real people of the central desert that Ricketts lived with off and on for 30 years. I am helping Paul to make a cool doco about the sanctuary and its sister, Pichie Richie, on the outskirts of Alice Springs, to share Ricketts' vision of enlightening white Australia's perception of the children of the dream-time.
I took the boat to Tasmania, for what was probably the 18th time or so...Tassie is by far my favourite and most beloved part of Australia. I went straight to see my friends at Lorinna, a lovely remote community tucked away in the central highlands to the northeast of Cradle Mountain. Remember now this is Tasmania in the dead of winter, so hauling fire-wood and keeping the wood stoves going was an essential and ongoing part of every day. I love wood-stoves and I love being warm. I met some cool folks, caught up with some great mates, and painted the largest rock I've ever done with an interpretation of the logo of my friends' organic farm. This was quite a challenging project, as the rock had to be painted in situ, which meant that I only had a couple hours per day to work, but it got done and turned out fantastic.
I didn't make it to Hobart on this visit but did get to catch up with my great old friend and soul brother Rob Alliston who used to live at Lorinna and was responsible for inviting me there in the beginning. For the last couple years he'd been living in a care facility in Sheffield, the town of murals between Lorinna and Devonport on the north coast.
Seeing Rob was great. He'd been battling Parkinson's disease since before I got in touch with him in 2003, but was holding up quite well. In June when I saw him he was using a walker to get around but when I arrived he had just had a fresh hair-cut and was getting ready to do some visiting in the facility.
We sat down and started reminiscing about our adventures of the past decade, the art I had done for him, the time we hitch-hiked to Cradle Mountain in a snow storm, when I stayed with him in Sheffield and he fell and had to go in the hospital. I asked him about the book he'd been trying to finish for several years and he said he'd made a lot of progress. Rob grew up on Three Hummock Island, a member of the Hunter Group off the northwest coast of Tasmania, and we'd been planning to go there together some day.
We made a plan to go to Three Hummock when I came back to Tassie next, as I've never been there. Just as I was about to leave, Rob got really serious and asked if he could share something important with me. His tone of voice concerned me and I listened very attentively to what he had to share.
He told me that he had recently overheard some of the doctors there talking about euthanasia, and they were talking about doing it to HIM. At first I thought he was joking but when I saw he wasn't, I pressed him to make sure he hadn't been imagining things or misunderstanding what they said, but he was adamant that this is what he heard. Even though Parkinson's is not known for dementia, I'd always been on the lookout for signs in Rob but had never detected even the slightest hint of it.
I asked what their possible motivation might be, as he was not a trouble-maker (au contraire, a popular personality on the ward), everything was paid for, and they had no shortage of empty rooms. I was deeply concerned and so was Rob. He said that I was the only person he'd told this to. His other friends and family are quite conservative to say the least, but he and I were on the same page with just about everything. I had interviewed him three times for my radio show about his life and experiences in Tasmania and Australia as a whole.
This was June. Rob was in as good a health and high a spirit as I'd seen him, only using a walker a bit but other than that good as gold. Imagine my shock and horror to get an email in November telling me that he had passed away...four months after he told me the euthanasia story. I had known him for 15 years. Like the volcanic eruption, this is a whole story unto itself that I will explore in greater depth in an upcoming blog and radio show dedicated to Rob. But for now, chalk it up to being the greatest mystery of 2018, to me anyway.
ROB ALLISTON, 2014
https://soundcloud.com/ jefferson-good-medicine/on- the-brink-radio-74-rob- alliston-3-hummock-island- tasmania
MICK KALBER VIDEOS